Local helicopter pilot trying to help people in Haiti, needs help getting off of the ground


by Adrianna Hopkins


Posted on January 22, 2010 at 11:05 PM

Updated Saturday, Jan 23 at 5:08 PM

(WHAS11)  "It's extremely frustrating, we've been fighting with it all week long," said Tom Eifler, Jr.

Helicopter pilot Tom Eifler, Jr. has been fighting to help the people of Haiti, to help the doctors trying to save the earthquake victims, and fighting to help Edge Outreach, a Kentuckiana ministry, get clean water flowing into the country; but he can't.

"Every second we're sitting here, there are people dieing.  We could be down there helping them.  But we can't get in," said Eifler. '

He has the helicopter and he's made trips like this before.  In 2005 he traveled to New Orleans after Katrina.  He has money for the fuel, a water purification system, two doctors, medical supplies, and a translator.

"We got some calls this morning from doctors without borders saying we really need you guys here.  We can't even get the people we need to the medical tents," said Patrick Keese, a dentist who would like to travel with Eifler and the team.

But Eifler cannot find any insurance carrier to cover the hull of the aircraft.  He could fly from Louisville to Miami and to the Bahamas, but that's where the coverage stops.

"There are a lot aircraft in the US that want to help, but they can't get coverage on the aircraft.  I've tried 12 different carriers to try to go down there," said Eifler. "It's been designated as an unsafe zone, so none of the carriers will cover it."
He's hoping someone will put up the $400,000 needed in an escrow account, which would be returned when the aircraft returns safely.  Until then, he can only watch the chaos on TV with his strong desire to be there helping.

"It's an absolute passion that I love to do.  And I've got this gift and I'd love to be able to go with others down there and do whatever to help, and you just sit here and watch it on TV and it's the most frustrating thing you can do."

To help Eifler, you can call the Haitian Relief, Inc. (a 501c3 foundation) at 502-558-2323. The address: 122 Fairfax Ave. Louisville, KY 40207.